Saturday was a brew day for me, indeed it was the last brew day of this year. Next weekend Mrs V and I head south again to South Carolina to drop our wee Cairn terrier off at Mrs V's parents, and then the following Friday we fly to France for Christmas. I brewed my strong ale for next Thanksgiving, changing tack a little bit by brewing a Belgian style strong dark ale, which the 3787 Trappist High Gravity yeast is fermenting away nicely at the moment.
I have brewed 21 beers this year, with an average starting gravity of 1.053, an average IBU rating of 32 and an average ABV of 5.1%, not including the beers I currently have in various carboys. I guess if that shows anything, other than perhaps an unhealthy interest in statistics, it is that generally I like beers that are balanced and drinkable, but you knew that already.
This year I also made the jump from brewing with extract and specialty grains to brewing all grain, and while I enjoy the process more than before, I am not going to make claims that all grain is naturally superior to extract and grains. I have also had some success in competitions, picking up 2 golds and an Honorable Mention in regional competitions, the latest gold coming just this weekend at the Palmetto State Brewers Open, where Samoset 2010 went one better than the 2009 version.
As for the beers themselves, I think brewing the 1933 Barclay Perkins Milk Stout as part of the International Homebrew Project was the most technically challenging. The 3 way wheat beer experiment where I used the same ingredients to brew 3 batches on the same day and then ferment with different yeast strains was also very interesting, if a little hectic. My favourite beer to drink was my Fuggold Bitter, a clean Ordinary Bitter weighing in at just 3.3% ABV, which took gold at the Dominion Cup back in August.
Not one to rest on my laurels, I am putting together my brewing calendar for 2012 already. Apart from my annual strong beers, I am planning to make next year a study in beers below 12° Plato, or 1.048. I am convinced that the truly great brewers are the ones making session beers which are packed with flavour and drinkability. I might never reach those heights, but as the much maligned Gerard Houllier once commented, "if you aim for the stars you might just land on the moon".